Freed Saudi Princess Basmah is back living at the penthouse where she was kidnapped 3 years ago, source says

Princess Basmah
Saudi Princess Basmah bint Saud. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
  • Princess Basmah was freed from a Saudi prison on Wednesday after nearly three years.
  • She is now back in her penthouse apartment in Jeddah, a source told Insider. 
  • She was released due to poor health, the source said.

Princess Basmah bint Saud, who was freed from a Saudi prison on Wednesday, is back living in the apartment from where she was kidnapped nearly three years ago, a source close to the royal told Insider.

Basmah, a businesswoman and human-rights activist, was taken from her penthouse in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on February 28, 2019, along with her daughter. 

The pair were taken to al-Ha’ir prison, a facility near Riyadh notorious for housing high-profile prisoners. They were held there without charge, family members previously told Insider. 

Basmah and her daughter were released from al-Ha’ir on Wednesday, her legal advisor told Insider on Monday. They were now back at their penthouse home on Jeddah’s seafront promenade, the same apartment from where they were taken in 2019, the advisor said.

Basmah’s release was granted on humanitarian reasons due to her ill health, the source said. Basmah suffers from colonic and heart issues, as well as osteoporosis. She had been taken to the hospital immediately after her release, the source added.

There did not appear to be any conditions attached to her release, the source said.

Security footage from inside the penthouse on the night of her disappearance, obtained by Spain’s ABC newspaper, showed a group of armed men entering the apartment and then covering the security cameras.

The Saudi government has never publicly commented on Basmah’s case. The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

On Sunday, Basmah tweeted her thanks to her uncle, Saudi King Salman, and her cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“In God we trust, his justice and miracles we [believe],” she wrote.

Still unclear why she was imprisoned in the first place

Before her release, Basmah’s legal advisor, family, and other members of her close circle had spent months lobbying the State Department and US lawmakers to apply pressure on Riyadh over Basmah’s case.

Both the department and the House Foreign Affairs Committee later raised the issue with the Saudi government, a US government source previously told Insider. 

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. 

Basmah was one of the kingdom’s most high-profile detainees, but the reason for her imprisonment is still unconfirmed. 

Her family previously told Insider they believed her detention was an attempt to stop her from claiming part of a multi-billion euro inheritance from her father, the late King Saud.

Basmah’s Saudi bank account was frozen at the time of her kidnap, her family previously said. It’s not clear whether it was unfrozen upon her release.

However, US officials believed she may also have been persecuted due to her perceived closeness to Muhammad bin Nayef, the former crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

In her role as an author and public speaker, Basmah was also vocal about human rights. Saudi Arabia has jailed a number of activists for protesting the country’s rights record.

The legal advisor told Insider that Basmah was told during her release that the country’s leadership was “seeking to improve the rule of law in the country,” without giving further details.